Holy War in Harlem: Pastors Want Al Sharpton Out

Simone Weichselbaum, NY Daily News, October 14, 2013

The prince of the pulpit may have a revolution on his hands.

Four upstart clergymen have invited more than 100 churches to knock Rev. Al Sharpton off his Harlem political throne.

Speak Out Say It Loud, headquartered at Mount Neboh Baptist Church on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., is a new coalition of black ministers determined to create a unified African-American power base with citywide clout.

Mount Neboh pastor Johnnie Green, 51, said Sharpton has neglected black New York while pursuing national fame and acclaim.

“While (Sharpton) is jet-setting around the country, people are going to our churches saying they don’t have money to eat,” the Dallas native said. “People need somebody to fight for them.”

Green, along with pastors Carl Washington of New Mount Zion Baptist Church on W. 140th St., Kris Erskine of Bethany Baptist Church on W. 153rd St. and Patrick Young of First Baptist Church of East Elmhurst, Queens, has planned a large rally for Oct. 24 at Mount Neboh.

The group expects more than 1,500 supporters to attend.

Green and the rally organizers argue that Sharpton has spent too much time plugging his new book, “The Rejected Stone,” and tending to his MSNBC show.

“You have to engage politically. You have to put people in office who will benefit your agenda and benefit people in the congregation,” said Raymond Blanchette, bishop general secretary of the United Churches for Kingdom Building. “Sharpton isn’t a community organizer. He’s a personality.”

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“We need to attack the issues, not each other,” Sharpton shot back. “If you want to be the big guy, be the big guy, be that. Don’t act like I’m not doing anything local. I am.”

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Sharpton said he continues to advocate for black New Yorkers on issues such as the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy.

“I run a civil rights organization,” the firebrand said. “They’re not going to do what I do. … I don’t run a church organization.”

But the Speak Out foursome insist the goal is not to rival Sharpton’s 22-year-old, Harlem-based National Action Network, but simply to urge Sharpton to stick to national issues while their coalition takes the lead on local problems.

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